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No NHS use for bowel cancer drug

A potentially life-saving bowel cancer drug has been turned down for use on the NHS.

NICE has ruled Avastin (bevacizumab) is too expensive at nearly £21,000 per patient, with around 6,500 people who could be eligible for it. The watchdog's decision comes despite tests showing the drug can prolong life by six weeks if used in conjunction with chemotherapy drugs capecitabine and oxaliplatin and can also shrink liver tumours to a size that makes life-saving surgery possible.

Manufacturer, Roche, offered to share the risk with the organisation, but this was also rejected.

Sir Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE, said: "We have recommended several treatments for various stages of colorectal cancer, including cetuximab for the firstline treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.

"We are disappointed not to be able to recommend bevacizumab as well but we have to be confident that the benefits justify the considerable cost of this drug."

The decision is still open to consultation and appeal.

Rob Glynne-Jones, Chief Medical Adviser at Bowel Cancer UK, said patients could actually live up to 27 months in total with Avastin, according to trial data from Europe and the US.

"I can't argue with NICE's decision, but I am disappointed," he said.

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